PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) have issued health advisories for Roger Williams Park Ponds and Mashapaug Pond because of blue-green algae blooms in both bodies of water. Rhode Islanders are urged to avoid recreational activities in both bodies of water, which are located in Providence.
The blue-green algae blooms in Roger Williams Park Ponds and Mashapaug Pond, also known as cyanobacteria, may produce naturally occurring algal toxins. Until further notice, people should avoid:
• Swimming in these ponds • Boating in these ponds • Fishing in these ponds • Eating fish caught in these ponds • Allowing pets to enter into or drink from these ponds
Algae blooms can be dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface, or they can form under water. They are bright green and often resemble green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after blue-green algae blooms are no longer visible.
Skin rashes and irritation of the nose, eyes, and/or throat are common side effects that result from skin contact with water containing algal toxins. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects include stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage.
Individuals who come into contact with blue-green algae blooms in Roger Williams Park Ponds or Mashapaug Pond should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible and wash their clothes. Anyone who is experiencing the symptoms listed above after coming into contact with an algae bloom should contact their healthcare provider.
Pets are at greater risk because they are more likely to swim in or drink the contaminated water. If pets come into contact with the water, people are advised to rinse the animal with clean water to prevent them from licking the potential toxins, and to contact their veterinarian if they become ill after swimming in a pond experiencing a cyanobacteria bloom.
HEALTH and DEM have notified Providence officials of the algae blooms and are working with the city to ensure that those around the bodies of water are aware of the potential danger posed by the blooms.